Off-Duty Pilot Charged After Allegedly Attempting to Take Control of Alaska Airlines Flight

The off-duty pilot "unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines," the airline reportedly said in a statement

<p>Getty</p> An Alaska Airlines plane is pictured here.


An Alaska Airlines plane is pictured here.

An off-duty pilot on an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to San Francisco on Sunday has been booked on 83 counts of attempted murder among other charges after he allegedly tried to seize control of the aircraft and shut down the engines.

Port of Portland said in a statement to PEOPLE that Alaska Airlines’ regional subsidiary “Horizon Airlines flight 2059 from Everett, Washington to San Francisco, California made an emergency diversion to Portland International Airport” as a result of “an off-duty employee from another airline caused an inflight disturbance while in the cockpit.”

“The flight crew was able to detain the subject and the flight landed safely at Portland International Airport just before 6:30 PM,” the statement continued. “Port of Portland Police Officers met the flight and took the subject into custody without incident.

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Port of Portland confirmed to PEOPLE that the suspect, identified as 44-year-old Joseph David Emerson per Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office online booking records, was “lodged at the Multnomah County Detention Center on multiple charges and the investigation is on-going.”

Multnomah County Sheriff's Office’s records show that Emerson was arrested by Port of Portland police and charged with 83 felony counts of attempted murder, 83 misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment and one felony count of endangering an aircraft.

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The Federal Aviation administration also said in a statement to PEOPLE that the agency is “engaged with Alaska and Horizon airlines and is supporting law enforcement investigations into Sunday evening’s incident aboard a Horizon Air flight.”

According to NBC News, Alaska Air said in a statement that the onboard crew of Horizons Airline flight 2059 “reported a credible security threat related to an authorized occupant in the flight deck jump seat.”

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"The jump seat occupant unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines," the statement continued, per NBC News. "The Horizon Captain and First Officer quickly responded, engine power was not lost and the crew secured the aircraft without incident."

Per CNN, the Alaska Airlines statement read, “Following appropriate FAA procedures and guidance from air traffic control, the flight safely diverted to Portland International Airport. The event is being investigated by law enforcement authorities.”

Alaska Airlines did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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